JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Friday’s extreme fire danger warning is prompting West Metro Fire Rescue to raise its staffing to an unprecedented level.
“With all the recent fires and the history of the last year with fires and our record season in 2020, wildfire is definitely on our minds, and we want to have as many resources available as possible,” Capt. Brendan Finnegan said.
On a typical day, West Metro structures itself according to what it calls “Preparedness Level 1.” During periods of heightened fire threats like red flag days, the department will be elevated to “Preparedness Level 2.”
Friday, for the first time ever, West Metro is operating in “Preparedness Level 3.”
“So we actually have an extra crew on duty to staff one of our type-six engines, our brush trucks. So they’re here through this red flag warning criteria,” Finnegan said.
He said the department, which assisted during the Marshall Fire in December, has been preparing for extreme fire conditions for several days.
“Marshall Fire was definitely one of those for a new experience at the highest level possible, so that will always be engrained in all the firefighters’ heads that have been up there. So we see the conditions lining up, you see the predicted winds, and that critical message from the National Weather Service. We are expecting something to that magnitude as a possibility,” Finnegan said.
Avoid activity that could spark a fire
He said while fire departments do what they can to prepare, it is also critical for the public to help by not doing anything that could produce a spark.
“We see that with even yard equipment, that can start a fire from even a mower hitting a rock … Or even a flat tire — we’ve seen that before, where the rims hit the ground and start a spark,” he said.
“I think a lot of people are being really cautious, especially after such a traumatic event so I think people are going to be pretty safe,” Nora Hess said.
Hess is part of a team of volunteers from Centaurus High School planting trees inside the Marshall Fire burn scar for Earth Day.
“The Marshall Fire took out a lot of trees, and before that, our club was originally deciding to plant trees for Earth Day just because but we more than doubled our goal for how many trees we were going to plant after the fire,” she said.
Volunteers say Friday’s red flag conditions are concerning for the community.
“It does make you leery, because I keep seeing in the news there’s a fire popping here and a fire pop up there, and so it makes you think every time that you hear that, that you don’t want the same thing to happen obviously again here or anywhere else,” Kevin Kidney said.
Useful resources for wildfires
Here are some helpful wildfire resources:
- Check current active wildfire alerts, warnings
- See current forecast
- How to prepare for a wildfire, extreme fire danger
- What is a red flag warning?
- 3 steps to protect your home from fire danger
- Avoid these activities that could spark wildfires
Be sure to download the free Pinpoint Weather App to stay up-to-date with the newest weather data as it comes in and to get important alerts straight to your phone.